Obama on Separation of Church and State

Barack Obama answered some questions on religion asked by a correspondent for CBN. While he does often speak of the influence of religion on hs life and views, he isn’t interested in recent polls where he is considered among the most religious candidates of either party, stating, “I don’t think it’s helpful as candidates or as a country to get into discussions about who’s more religious.” Obama also discussed separation of church and state:

For my friends on the right, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn’t the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn’t want the established churches to impose their views on folks who were getting happy out in the fields and teaching the scripture to slaves.

It was the forbearers of Evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they didn’t want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it. Given this fact, I think that the right might worry a bit more about the dangers of sectarianism.

Whatever we once were, we’re no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers. We should acknowledge this and realize that when we’re formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we’ve got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community.

Obama also spoke about separation of church and state during last week’s CNN/You Tube debate. By showing his concern for separation of church and state while also taking about religion, Obama might be able to receive considerable support from both religious and secular individuals, consistent with his campaign theme of bridging divisions in the country.

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